Hart’s less than helpful reminders

Attention, Yukon's homeless, jobless and otherwise down-and-out: you are excluded from society. And in case you had missed what is surely already painfully obvious, Health Minister Glenn Hart has painted helpful reminders around town.

Attention, Yukon’s homeless, jobless and otherwise down-and-out: you are excluded from society.

And in case you had missed what is surely already painfully obvious, Health Minister Glenn Hart has painted helpful reminders around town.

“Social exclusion is all around us,” says one message, painted in blue and white on the sidewalk outside Java Connection on Third Avenue. “You don’t belong here,” says another in red.

Outside other local businesses are similar sidewalk signs. You can’t take part. You don’t belong here. You can’t get there. You can’t stay here.

The idea, said Hart, is to get people thinking. Nearby businesses have explanatory posters. “Social exclusion is when a person is shut out from the social, economic, political and cultural systems which contribute to the integration of a person into the community,” one states.

The posters and signs encourage readers to visit a government website, inclusion-is-better.ca, which has links to various reports, largely having to do with poverty measurements and reduction targets from other jurisdictions.

In social work circles, social inclusion is virtually interchangeable with another, more plainly-put term: poverty reduction. But right-leaning governments have worried that anti-poverty has a socialist flavour to it, while some social workers have fretted identifying someone as poor may create further stigmatization.

So they settled on a new term that’s inoffensive, because few people know what it means, and its scope is so wide that it could include virtually anyone who feels isolated.

According to Hart, social inclusion has the benefit of being even more broad than anti-poverty. For example, it could cover an elderly shut-in who is not poor, but has little interaction with others.

Yukon has been on a social-inclusion kick since last autumn, when Hart announced his government would create a social inclusion strategy. A conference held on the subject this spring resulted in the current campaign.

The territory has set aside two full-time workers and one half-time worker to cook up a report by November. The government expects to table its strategy by the spring.

Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland all have social inclusion strategies, said Hart. But, in fact, all three jurisdictions refer to these plans as “poverty reduction” strategies.

“I hope when people walk over that message, they think about what it means – that they’re not included in society,” said Hart. “We’d like to make people aware.”

Credit Aasman Design Inc. The ad firm designed the three-week campaign, which also includes radio spots and posters. It’s expected to cost $30,000.

The campaign received the support of the city and local stores. The paint used is environmentally friendly and will eventually be removed with a pressure washer.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.